When in 2012, a 23-year-old female physiotherapy intern was brutally gang raped and tortured on a private bus in Delhi, the spine-chilling incident shocked the country and the world. Subsequently, public protests against the state and central governments for failing to provide adequate security for women took place in Delhi and other parts of India, demand stringent punishment of sexual assault against women. Despite all uproar and outcry, very little has changed since then in reality.
This year itself started on a shocking note — with reports of mass molestation of women in Bengaluru. When concerns about women’s safety and questions about the mentality of the molesters were raised, many put the onus on the victim and not the assaulter. The blame was put on Western influences invading Indian traditions and, of course, the dresses women wear.
Recently, reacting to the Bengaluru New Year’s eve incident, G Parameshwara, Karnataka’s home minister came out and blamed the victims for dressing in Western clothing. “They try to copy westerners not only in mindset but even the dressing … some girls are harassed, these kinds of things do happen.” Well, certainly he was not the first one to say or think so. Even Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi drew huge flak for his infamous remark on women’s dressing style.
Tired of all such obnoxious remarks, a Mumbai-based photography and videography services start-up designed a photo series to highlight that it’s not the victim’s clothing that causes rape or molestation. Men or women, it’s the perpetrators and their mentality that’s responsible.
In an email to indianexpress.com, AIE Services said, “When we read the news about Bangalore mass molestation, we were working on a script of a project depicting how Mumbai is the city of dreams and how they do come true. The news hit hard and we immediately got to thinking ‘is it right on our part to show the fancy/good only? Let us face the ugly once too’.” That’s what triggered these young professionals intrigued to take a stand.
“We saw that many organisations were working on some brilliant ideas to convey the message that it was not victim’s fault or what they were wearing,” they added. They added that while reading about how people reacted to the whole incident across social media platforms, they “were disgusted to see how in the face of anonymity or social media there are still some people with compassion range of a teaspoon.”
Finally, the team reworked their initial concept and came up with these hard-hitting pictures, connecting each to a specific sexual assault incident making it clear the victim ‘never asked for it’. “We decided to change the project and do our bit through the art we know, the art we believe in.”
The group has shared their illustrations on their Facebook page highlighting how in India, rape often becomes a ‘spectacle’ and says it takes “lots of courage” to fight and deal with the pain and anguish.
What are your thoughts on these photos, tell us in comments below.
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